As all of Pakistan observed ‘Black Day’ on Wednesday in a bid to lodge strong protest against Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir, we express solidarity with the people of Kashmir and our commitment for the cause. The latest spate of unrest in the Indian-held Kashmir has resulted in senseless bloodshed - nearly 50 unarmed Kashmiris lost their lives and 2000 lay wounded. PM Nawaz Sharif has undoubtedly brought up the issue of Kashmir on multiple fronts in his term and will address the nation today to reiterate the country’s support for the Kashmiri peoples right for freedom. However, the lack of willingness on India’s part for dialogue has been more than apparent and the latest bout of blatant aggression speaks loudly for that unwillingness.

In a statement, PM Sharif insisted the fighting in the disputed region is no more a ‘domestic’ matter for India as it repeatedly claims but that it needs to be sorted out in an international forum. The world must recognise the Kashmiri struggle and the complete disregard of human rights at the hands of the Indian government. Kashmir is an issue close to all Pakistanis hearts and yes, we will do our part and support the cause till the end. Our leaders can wear black armbands and hold rallies and that’s well in good. But can they be outright in their support for the cause every day of the year not just on ‘Ascension Day’ or ‘Black Day’ or ‘Kashmir Day’? Paid advertisements by the government are doing the rounds on television as well, but surely more is needed? As Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto put it, “We shall fight a thousand years to liberate Kashmir,” can our leaders assure the same today?

The call for the observance of the Black Day has been echoed by Hurriyet leaders including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, while protestors across Indian Held Kashmir have raised the Pakistani flag despite a strict curfew enforced upon them. The commitment and the will of the Kashmiri people is more than apparent; it is time for the Pakistani leadership to reciprocate the same passion. Ahead of the AJK elections all leaders seem to be squabbling on social media as to who is more “committed” to the cause and who has done more throughout history. This day has more significance than just leverage to win an election. It is a struggle for freedom, for dignity, for respect. It is a fight against oppression and injustice. Let us remember to raise the voice of the Kashmiri people as if it were our own.